Working + Volunteering?

Although my volunteering at the nature center is about to begin (!!), this month I’m taking a break from discussing my trials and triumphs and am instead sharing the challenges a friend of mine has experienced during her adventures in (not) volunteering.

Her biggest obstacle is finding an opportunity that works with her schedule.  An AmeriCorps volunteer, her schedule is somewhat unpredictable and she often has to work into the evening, making it extremely difficult to commit to a consistent volunteer opportunity.  After having difficulty finding evening options she began searching for one-time opportunities, and ran into similar scheduling problems.  On top of availability issues she also ran into application struggles in the form of confusing and illegible forms.

Despite these struggles she is still on the hunt for a satisfying volunteer opportunity, over and above her AmeriCorps service.  I know a number of National Service volunteers that are looking for additional service opportunities, and it’s extremely unfortunate that these dedicated volunteers have such difficulty finding options that work with their schedules.  Not only that, but these individuals are generally looking for something to contrast their already full-time service positions, and finding opportunities outside of a certain sector can provide additional challenges.  On top of THAT, a number of National Service members are volunteer managers themselves, and don’t want to commit to something they know won’t hold their interest or won’t agree with their schedules.  These struggles – busy schedules, the need for something different than their day jobs, and the desire to find something to which they can confidently commit – apply to many working adults.

Another of my fellow AmeriCorps volunteers is interested in orchestrating a volunteer fair for busy, working adults to attempt to help solve this problem, but I’m not sure what can be done if there are already limited opportunities.  Should organizations attempt to coordinate events so there are more options for working professionals?  Or perhaps there are plenty of organizations that are open at less conventional times but haven’t considered using volunteers during those times?  Expanding volunteer opportunities will result in a diversified volunteer force, which has numerous positive benefits, but creating and supporting those variegated opportunities requires change and commitment not all organizations are willing or able to make.

-Submitted by Kelsey Dambrovski, Neighborhood Resource Coordinator, Minnesota Children’s Museum

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